Sunday, May 24, 2009

O Captain! My Captain!

I have never particularly taken to Whitman. Phrases and shards from long poems, yes, but rarely, other than his poem O Captain! My Captain!, have I particularly enjoyed his work. This weekend I purchased Penguin's The Portable Walt Whitman and am finding more that do strike home. I'll blog these later but let's start with Captain.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;

The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up-for you the flag is flung-for you the bugle trills;

For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths-for you the shores a-crowding;

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!

This arm beneath your head;

It is some dream that on the deck,

You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;

The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;

From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!

But I, with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

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